Hydration: It Is More Than Drinking Water
There is no simpler way to improve your health than to increase your hydration. But increasing hydration involves more than just drinking water.
We Are Literally Bodies of Water
We have all heard the recommendation to drink 8 glasses of water every day but this conventional wisdom is only half right. It is true that proper hydration is the key to unlocking optimal health. Humans are primarily made of water. In fact, approximately 65% of you is water. So, if you aren’t hydrated, then all of the other things you are doing to stay healthy, like eating well, getting enough sleep, and exercising will not be as effective.
Water is required for most of the body’s essential functions. It is used as a solvent and a transporter for the movement of nutrients, hormones, and other elements around the body. It is essential for maintaining cell structure. Water is required for almost all the metabolic reactions that take place in our bodies. Clearly, we need water to survive and thrive.
Water is required for most of the body’s essential functions. We need water to survive and thrive.
Dehydration is An Epidemic
Unfortunately, many of us are not getting enough water and are living in a state of chronic dehydration. In fact, as many as 75% of us are not getting enough water. Why is this? Well for starters, we lose about 2-3 liters of water every day through breathing, sweat, urine and bowel movements,
As many as 75% of us are not getting enough water.
What we eat is also often a problem. Salt-heavy, processed foods require more water to digest and metabolize. Drinking caffeinated drinks, sugary sodas and alcohol also contribute to water loss. On top of this, not eating enough hydrating vegetables and fruits makes the problem worse.
But it is more than food intake and a lack of water consumption that is causing a dehydration epidemic. We are constantly exposed to fluorescent lighting, dry heat, air conditioning and cell phones – all of which are dehydrating. Even medications – over-the-counter and prescription – are dehydrating.
Another surprising source of dehydration is a lack of movement. Immobility slows down water delivery into our cells as well as the important removal of waste products. You have probably heard that ‘sitting is the new smoking’ in terms of health risks. Well, apparently sitting is also literally dehydrating us by slowing the flow of water around our body.
Why is Dehydration Bad?
Dehydration adversely affects almost every aspect of your health. Even minor dehydration can result in lethargy, headaches, migraines and joint pain. It causes dry skin and brittle hair, muscle cramps, joint swelling, and even weight gain. Dehydration reduces your ability to focus and increases your appetite. Chronic dehydration can make you fat, tired and in pain.
Chronic dehydration can make you fat, tired and in pain.
How to Stay Hydrated
Drinking 8 glasses of water every day is not the right approach to staying hydrated. We all definitely need to drink water on a daily basis. The rule of thumb that I like to strive for is: your body weight (in lbs) ÷ 3 = ounces of water required. That puts most of us around 5-7 glasses of water. If you are exercising a lot, doing hot yoga, using a sauna or generally losing a lot of water through sweat then you should add a few additional glasses to your routine.
Drinking 8 glasses of water every day is not the right approach to staying hydrated.
According to the book Quench by Dana Cohen and Gina Bria, staying hydrated involves more than just drinking water. Their recommendations include the following:
- Eat your water. Fruits and vegetables provide lots of water in a way that is useable by our bodies. They are high in nutrients and fibre which helps to keep the water in our system. Hydrating foods include cucumber, celery, spinach, romaine lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and radishes. Also fruits like strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, melon, apples and pears.
- Move a little every hour. Our bodies need to move to get water into our cells. So get up, walk around and stretch a little. Even very small movements will help. So when you are sitting in that traffic jam, wiggle your body, roll your shoulders or tap your hands and feet.
- Rehydrate your environment. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on expensive humidifying equipment, even a small diffuser or jug of water on your desk will help rehydrate your body. And if you add some lovely smelling essential oils to your diffuser you will get the added health benefits from the oils!
- Add a pinch of natural salt to your water every morning. Yes, salt can help you stay hydrated! But it has to be the right kind of salt. Table salt will not help you but natural salts like sea, Celtic, Himalayan and rock salt carry trace minerals that that play an important role in hydration.
- Limit dehydrating foods. There are many reasons to limit alcohol, sugar, grains and dairy. Hydration is just one of them. These foods remove water from our bodies so limiting them or compensating by drinking extra water when you do consume them makes a big difference to overall hydration.
It is much easier to stay hydrated than we have always been told. I don’t know about you, but I have always found that drinking 8 glasses of water every day is not easy! With these simple strategies, you can have significant impact on your hydration and support all those other fantastic things you are doing to stay healthy!